TOKYO, OCT. 9, 2007 ( Father Pietro Kassui Kibe and 187 companions, Japanese martyrs of the 17th century, will be beatified next year in Nagasaki. The beatifications will be the first held on Japanese soil.
The Vatican informed Archbishop Takeo Okada of Tokyo, president of Japan's episcopal conference, that the beatification will take place Nov. 24, 2008, reported AsiaNews.
Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, will represent Benedict XVI at the ceremony.
In a letter to Japan's Catholics, Archbishop Okada announced "with joy" the Vatican's decision: "I hope that we take to heart the meaning of the treasure our predecessors in the faith left us."
There were priests, religious men and laypeople among the 188 Japanese martyrs.
Kibe, a convert to Christianity, had fled persecution from the government and moved to Rome, where he entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained a priest. He returned to Japan to carry out his ministry among the oppressed faithful, and in 1639 was captured, tortured and killed in Tokyo.

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